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> > > News: Unlimited: Ready, steady, go!
photograph of two women on stage dancing balancing on crutches

Unlimited performance Image courtesy of CandoCo

Marian Cleary, DAO's new sub-editor, introduces the Unlimited commissions 

And they're off!

Well actually they are officially now ‘on’.

What or who are ‘they’? They are the Unlimited artists, organisations and performers. Until 9 September 2012 (with a few events running into October), they will be presenting work in visual arts, performing and performance art, children’s theatre, dance, installation, and much more across varied venues and multiple regions. And they will be demanding your attention and participation.

They are part of the Cultural Olympiad which, if you’ve been hiding for the last few years, is the cultural backdrop to London 2012. More specifically, the Unlimited commissions are programmed to lead up to and then will be in parallel with the Paralympics, which run from 29 August to 9 September.

In true Olympic tradition, to win their Unlimited commissions, they had to compete over various rounds. So these are our top arts stars.

So, now April 2012 has pierced the alleged drought in the root, Unlimited blossoms forth from May until September.
Many artists and Unlimited performers have been directly influenced by the energy of the games such as through participation, action, celebration of the body and so forth, such as CandoCo and Ramesh Meyyappan. Many others have used their funding to create works which perhaps gesture more to the aesthetic of Great Britain rather than purely taking their prompt from Team GB.

For instance, first out of the blocks was Maurice Orr. For a few weeks now this artist, who always reaches beyond his previous parameters and then out to audiences, new and previous, has had his work on show at Ards Art Centre and soon moves to Northern Ireland's seat of devolved power; you can see his exhibition, The Screaming Silence of the Wind, in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont from June 18 to August 3.

The images in this exhibition evoke the natural world (right down to using fishleather) in both flux (inspired by his previous residency in Iceland) and form (as he encounters, feels and absorbs his native Northern-Ireland landscapes). By taking his enormous canvasses of land and sky and sea to Stormont he will transform that building more used to the flux and fix of politics. His pallet-knife sculpted oil paintings of land made and then land eroded will put in its right place our temporary human follies perhaps.

If you can’t get to Stormont in time, Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, hosts Orr's visualisations of The Screaming SIlence of the Wind from 6 August to 26 August.

England’s first entry is Paul Cummins. Unlike Orr, Cummins is a recent player on the arts scene. And he has offered up a very different take on landscape. His work is more garden-scape. This is no temporary ephemeral display however; Cummins works in ceramics. And while he is a very recent graduate of Derby University, having already won a much challenged-for Unlimited commission, he has surely been spotted for his talent which will prove itself in years to come. 

Cummins’ Midlands’ starting line has though sent him and his creations off all over England. Six installations made up of thousands of his flowers will adorn the grounds of stately homes and heritage gardens from now until the end of August 2012.

On one level, his English Garden Flowers in such elite aristocratic settings perhaps represent something seemingly quintessential about England which could be taken at a face-value aesthetic.  But, Cummins’ work, like Orr’s, will take a place in a venue beyond ancient aristocratic seats of power; you can see his beautiful flowers - roses white and red perhaps - at the Houses of Parliament from 4 June to 26 August.

DAO will be publishing reviews of Orr’s and Cummins’ Unlimited works in the next few weeks and all Unlimited-commissioned exhibitions and events in the months to come.

And if you are thinking, ‘Where’s Wales? Where’s Scotland? Where are the English regions?’ be reassured. Over the months Unlimited runs for, you will get updates, previews and reviews of all Unlimited events and exhibitions and there will be interviews and features about the artists and performers who will be appearing all over the UK. This includes two who will be at the Edinburgh Fringe (Laurence Clark and Caroline Bowditch) in August.

Once they’ve finished there, Clark and Bowditch will be joining the rest of the Unlimited artists and performers at the Southbank Centre for the grand finale where a packed programme of shows, exhibitions and documentation of events which took place during the Unlimited summer will be put on as part of the Unlimited Festival which runs in tandem with the Paralympics between 31 August and 9 September.

DAO will be adding all Unlmited listings to the site over the next few weeks and watch out for some new innovations in the pipeline which will make finding not only Unlimited events easy  but will keep you up to date with all Disability-Arts events taking place this summer and beyond!